I never had a bad feeling in Amsterdam. I saw a lot of police men walking around in the streets and on many street corners you can see a safety camera hanging, but nevertheless be warned that there is a lot of street crime, especially pickpockets and drugs crime. Pickpockets are the most active when it gets dark and in areas around restaurants and nightclubs on the Leidseplein and in the Red Light District.
At night don't walk alone in dark and narrow streets in the Red Light District.
In the time it took my beloved Proserpina to raise her chipcard and swipe it while exiting the 2 tram, a pickpocket accessed her zipped and momentarilly not tightly clutched pocketbook and made off with her wallet and a pair of designer sunglasses. One swipe, two seconds, out the open door, and gone - an olympic class sprinter.
An immediate trip to the police station was a good idea - an attempt was made to use one of her two credit cards within hours of the theft. Fortunately, the kind and efficient desk officer personally called both credit card companies himself and put a hold on the cards, so no further damage.
Our official report was taken by a young female officer working overtime to process all the minor crimes of the day. Visibly exhausted, she spoke with us as she typed. It appears that the Amsterdam police will make no effort whatsoever to prevent minor tourist-oriented crime much less to apprehend the miscreants, all of whom are well known. There are simply not enough police officers nor hours in the day. Well aware, the assorted pickpockets are increasing their activities with no fear of arrest, much less punishment. Depressing, realistic. Forewarned for the future - no pocketbooks, no jewelry, no nothing.
One of the dangers in Amsterdam is the fake police. They are in plain clothes and show fake police ID. They speak English and usually target Asian tourists, who often fail to recognise the heavy Eastern European accent. They ask to see passports and credit cards, and sometimes even ask for PIN numbers so that they can 'check' the tourist. More information at www.amsterdam.nl.
I think most people r already aware of this, but since I saw tourists missing their luggage every now n then, it's better 2 emphasize d importance of keeping an eye... no, make it two eyes... on ur belongings...
in restaurants, or cafes or bars... DO NOT put ur belonging near ur feet or other places where u can't watch it at all time... if u do, before u know it, ur stuff will disappear in a matter of seconds... n u will never lay sight on it ever again, trust me.... just put ur stuff on ur lap or on d table... whatever u do, don't let it out of ur sight........
If u have a backpack, always make sure every five minutes to check that it's still ok... put ur wallet inside d backpack where it's harder to find and not d front pocket or right above ur other stuff where people can easily take it after opening ur backpack...... If u feel something is touching it or something, just turn around and make sure that it's still closed properly...........
And last but not least, when u have a handbag, don't get too near to d traffic... a fellow student of mine had her purse snatched from her by guys on motorcycle.... just put ur hand on it in a protective way and on quiet street, be really alert........
it's not that i'm advising u 2 be paranoid or something... but i've seen lots of cases where tourists got all their luggage stolen, which means that they don't have their passports, money, and plane ticket anymore.... i'd hate 2 see a fellow traveller suffer like that... so please PLEASE prevent it from happening 2 u..........
if it does happen to u (knock on wood)... just ask d direction 2 d local police and report it immediately.... d police will let u use d phone 2 block ur credit card and ATM card.... and maybe u can also contact ur acquaintance or family so that they can help u further........
The following are problems I encountered:
1) Cyclists do not look out for you, so you look out for them, and no one gets hurt.
The following are problems I was told:
1) Pickpockets are numerous and a problem.
2) Some dogs might have rabies, so if you step in droppings, be careful when rinsing it off.
*and of course, always keep money and id in different areas, pockets, wallet, luggage, backpack.
There are Pickpockets! (also in the public transportation).
In the main shopping streets you are warned (see picture).
The top 5 pickpocket trics:
1) Cover. You will be surrounded by a group to cover the crime, using newspapers, coats etc. to cover the actual happening.
2) Broken glasses. Somebody drops glasses on the ground and steps on it. You will be accused and in the events that follow you will be pick-pocketed.
3) Back-to-Back. Very popular in Hamburger restaurants. While your coat is hanging on your chair and you finally start enjoying your food, the person that sits back-to-back with you starts his search.
4) Stain. Somebody stains your coat and offers to clean it. The moment you give your coat away..... well you get the picture.
5) Peeking at the ATM. Cover the keyboard when you punch in your pincode.
Besides these 5 there were cases people personating as fake policeman and asking for pasports and more.
Recent Amsterdam crimes map
A safer Amsterdam
In Amsterdam by night is not really hard to meet some strange dealers, most of them are in groups of 3-4 persons.
Remember, becareful of your money!
Usually they are not aggressive, but pay attention when exiting from the "centruum" (the heart of the city). Beyond the red light district is full of dark streets, only pickpockets and pushers.
Don't do any *** like singing/screaming, smashing bottles, urinating in the streets, etc... Dutch policemen are really strict and won't tolerate vandalism of any kind.
Remember, Hollanders are cool people and if you show some respect then they will easily help you. Don't be rude and keep in mind the good manners so try to use words like "please"or "thank you", however, you know what we are talking about.
Have your passport always with you. Keep it in a safe place, surely not in external pockets or in a bag.
Don't try to visit everything the first day. Take it easy! Buy a map. Touristic guides are o.k., yes usualy they cost a lot, but you will have a good booklet, useful to quickly find out many interesting places, saving your time and money.
Drink something when in a coffee shop and have a good time there. It's not just a smoking or trading place.
To have a 'smoking-day' in Amsterdam can be very pleasant, but can turn into a nightmare if you abuse with too much smoke or spacecakes. At the coffeeshop 'Homegrown Fantasy' they have some skunk-based cakes that starts playing with your mind after an hour or even 2 hours depending on what have you eaten before. Beware, if the effect is too strong for you then is better to sit down somewhere and drink or eat something sweet.
Beware at the passing bikes and trams(everything moves so fast and you are very very slow when stoned, so take care.)
Remember, nothing is free and Amsterdam isn't a cheap place to stay. Is hard to be there without money so is better to carry a Credit Card for emergencies.
In Amsterdam by night is not really hard to meet some strange dealer, most of them are in groups of 3-4 persons.
Remember: beware at your money!
The risk of being raped is just minimum, don't be drunk, and everything will be ok.
Usually they are not aggressive, but pay attention when exiting from the "centruum" (the heart of the city). Beyond the red light district is full of dark streets, only pickpockets and pushers. Brrr ;))
Don't do any *** like singing/screaming, smashing bottles, urinating in the streets, etc...
Holland policemans are really strict and they won't tolerate vandalism of any kind. Remember, Hollanders are cool persons and if you show some respect then they will easily help you. Don't be rude and keep in mind the good manners so try to use words like "please"or "thank you", however, you know what we are talking about.
Have your passport always with you. Keep it in a safe place, surely not in external pockets or in a bag
Although I have never had anything stolen from me, it is general knowledge that in a large city like Amsterdam, you need to be careful.
At the various entries to the Kalverstraat, you see these signs:
Let op zakkenrollers!
Beware of pickpockets!
Hüten Sie sich für Taschendieben!
Attention aux Pickpockets!
Isn't it funny that the French don't have their own word for pickpockets?
Click on the picture to see it properly.
I read in all of the tourist books to be very careful in Amsterdam of pickpockets. There are signs posted in most of the busy tourists area's to beware of pickpockets. I was warned in the airport to beware of pickpockets on the train from the airport to the city. These warning are not to be taken lightly. Although my traveling companions and I thought we were cautious we found ourselves robbed within ten minutes of leaving the airport. My companion had a small leather briefcase sitting in his lap. The case contained our passports, return airline tickets, and information about the conference he was attending. As we sat on the train a group of young boys entered our train car, made a commotion, grabbed the bag and ran. Luckily we did not lose any credit cards or cash, but we did lose our passports and return airline tickets. It took two days to get new passports made at the American Consulates office. It was a little more difficult getting the airline tickets replaced. It took us several days to get them replaced. After this initial shock, the rest of our stay was wonderful. Amsterdam was a very safe and friendly city. But beware and be careful in area's where they post the pickpocket warnings.
I live in NYC and Amsterdam.
The dangers in Amsterdam are plentiful but easily avoided:
The best way I've found to deal with "dealers" is to say "no thanks," or simply ignore them.
They don't hassle you if you "look local" - look around you for clues
- grow a beard
- dress down when out at night
- don't get cased by flashing jewelry or cash
- buy a local cel phone (they're cheap,) program in numbers for hotel, taxis, and the (always tardy) police
- pretend you're using it if you feel in danger or you're being followed
- take out small amounts of money from the wall, use a money clip and put it in your pocket
- just keep your id or passport on you at all times
- plan your route, don't pull out a map
- when in doubt, pretend you know where you're going or hail a cab
- pickpockets are everywhere and usually easy to spot, I'll avoid the stereotype
- don't get wasted and roam about aimlessly in obviously questionable areas
Amsterdam is safe and the people are nice, so be nice back.
It's easy to want to believe that they all have good intentions, but keep a calm guard about you.
People of all types flock there in the warmer months so know your spot.
There is some anti-American sentiment, so avoid politics at the bar, it only leads to a fight.
I hate to say it, but if asked where you're from, tell them a big city you're somewhat familiar with, they think we've seen it all and scam artists are less likely to try and gain your confidence.
Know that all these street scams are done in groups of 2-6 - they know the streets and the locals - and I wouldn't be writing this if my own street smarts haven't been tested. Stand back and take a look so you can watch it happen, especially in the RLD at night.
Don't bring tons of bags back from a store. Have it sent over or take a cab back.
The only danger in Amsterdam are the pickpockets and drug dealers.
Don't harass them or let them lead you into dark alleys - that's a good way to get mugged.
In general be cool, stand your ground, blend in, have an incredible time, stay safe, and don't be an obvious tourist.
You're sure to have a great vacation, there's really nothing to worry about. But the police are a laughing stock and intimidate nobody. If they catch you buying drugs, you're in for it, and if they don't, it's almost a sure bet you'll get beat, hopefully not hospitalized. I've seen it SO many times. Just think about it...is any street a wise place to buy or sell drugs? If it's not legal in Amsterdam, don't buy it.
My wife and visited Amsterdam in February, which I guess is not the tourist season. That may explain why I saw no pickpocket action in the Leidseplein, Kalverstraat or anywhere else. I avoided the Red Light District for that very reason, besides, I've seen hookers and junkies before. Of course, just because I was never pickpocketed doesn't mean they don't exist. Perhaps it's a matter of me being a bit bigger than your typical Dutchman and I didn't walk around with my head in the clouds. I simply kept my camera on my shoulder, beneath my coat and was always aware of who was standing near me. Other than that, I loved Amsterdam and will be returning in October!
One of the first things we were warned about on our arrival was the multitude of pickpockets and bag snatchers on the prowl. Luckily for us, we had no problems while we were here, but all it takes is a bit of intelligence. leave your real valuables at home! :-p
Seriously, Amsterdam is no worse than any other big city, you always need to be slightly cautious!
I stated before how safe this city is. I am also a product of inner city life of the States. So my perception may be skewed compared to others. I never once felt threatened or in danger, and I was wondering the streets at 2 am by myself at times. I did run across some people who were held by knife around the Red Light. Although the individual did confess to walking solo and completely inebriated, stumbling everywhere, acting like an easy target. You will be asked by the street dealers to stop and talk, but DON’T. And keep on walking like you know where you are going at all times. I was twisted around, getting lost, what seemed to be ever 15 minutes, but it is not a big (inner) city, and it you are usually never more than a couple blocks from where you want to go. I found this to be very fun. But unlike the States, you are in a society where guns are not that prevalent, and you can always run from a knife, not a bullet.
Some time ago i was walking in the streets with my father and two cousins and suddenly a guy was asking me for directions and i just refused beacuse i noticed he wasn't a real tourist. My father told me not to be rude with him and i stopped walking when two other guys approched to us and told us they were police and aks us to show teh money we had in our pokets, so when one of them showed us his id i realized it was an french id ( by the time i was living in France) and told my relatives to show only the travelers cheques because they didn't speak english so i don't know what happened but they left and so we realized they were robbers and later i spoke with a police woman and told that it happens.We were lucky not to be robbed.So beware when someone asks you something and if you do see if there aren't others around observing you and ready to act when you are distracted.